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Evaluation of the Allsopp helikite as a bird scaring device


We evaluated the effectiveness of Allsopp Helikites® as a gull (Larus spp.) deterrent at loafing and nesting areas and as a bird deterrent in a sunflower field. In 1998, a 10-day trial was conducted at two 0.5-ha ponds at the Erie County, Ohio landfill (EC) and a 2-week trial on two 0.1-ha plots on the Tru-Serv Corporation (TSC) warehouse roof in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Also in 1998, a 5-week trial in a sunflower field was conducted in Erie County, Ohio. In 1999, a 24-day trial was conducted at the Service Liqueur Distributors (SLD), Inc. warehouse roof, 1.6 km from the Albany, NY landfill. At the EC landfill the mean number (±SE) of ring-billed (L. delawarensis) and herring gulls (L. argentatus) on the treated pond decreased (P < 0.05) from 421 ± 292 to <1 after Helikite deployment, whereas the mean number of gulls on the untreated pond increased (P < 0.05) from 73 ± 135 to 412 ± 456. At the TSC roof, the herring gull nest density differed (P < 0. 01) between areas covered and not covered by Helikites. Nest density under Helikites decreased from 41/ha to 18/ha within 7 days of deployment. Nest density in areas not covered by Helikites increased from 23/ha to 42/ha within 14 days of deployment. At the SLD warehouse, when Helikites were not in place, the mean number (± SD) of gulls on the roof was 41 (± 38). When Helikites were in place, no gulls were observed on the roof at any time. Mean damage to sunflower heads remained similar in the Helikite-treated and untreated plots until the last week of measurement when damage in the untreated plot increased to 26% seed loss/head whereas damage in the treated plot remained at about 8%. Helikites are a high-maintenance tool and are limited by weather conditions, electrical lines, and structures that can damage Helikites. We conclude that Allsopp Helikites have the potential to deter gulls from preferred loafing and nesting areas and could be included as part of an integrated management program to disperse gulls. Further research on Helikites is needed to determine optimum deployment heights, habituation rates for gulls and other species, and the actual sphere of influence of the kite for various species.

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